Over the years Zambia has been blessed with politicians that always looked like the next big thing. Presidents have lumped them with heavy responsibilities and flaunted them to the people as loyal as grateful beings. They have looked polished when they have enjoyed the favour of the Presidency. We may not go as far back in the archives of our politics as history may demand.
But we have often asked ourselves what the emergency of political noise makers in our politics that have no following on the ground. These were men that were so entrusted by their superiors that they were in the front role when instruments of power occasionally had to be surrendered. They had been the shining light in governments. But when they become the vilest critics of the system they served, we are tempted to ask the question of what poison they may have swallowed. These are individuals that have suddenly crafted such a fearsome newspaper reputation that anyone reading their statements or listening to their authoritative sound bites would think they are the biggest thing in the Zambian political game. Of course they may have been.
Look at the ‘curse’ of George Wello Mpombo, Mike Mulongoti, Lameck Mangani, Wynter Kabimba and most recently Harry Kalaba. These are men that have had it all but opted to blow it all in one moment of senseless political ambition. They may flaunt their ambitions as political martyrdom but it has always been about naked ambition. George Wello Mpombo had been flying high as Defence Minister in the MMD government after former President Levy Mwanawasa plucked him from political obscurity and elevated him to the lofty position of power. Truth be told, he was never a disappointment overall.
But when Mwanawasa died Mpombo found a new hobby of hitting newspaper headlines more often than a serving government official should. He was that child that always rushed to the public whenever everything went wrong at home. He made the most appealing political noises that resonated very well with the newspaper audience but the public did know that all along Mpombo had his eyes on the big job. He was beginning to feel Presidential. We will not go into the nitty gritty of where his ill-fated National Democratic Movement ended up and where the all cheering adoring public that loved him in the newspapers led him to. Where were they when their adored Mwisho put himself on the ballot? Oh, sorry he never even made the ballot! Reality just merely put him in his political place.
Good old Mike had been a darling of all the Presidents he served under- Dr Frederick Chiluba, Levy Mwanawasa and Rupiah Banda. That somehow made him believe he was always better than his bosses. Mulongoti equally picked up a new hoppy of rubbishing everything his last boss he served under Rupiah Banda. He became that lone crusader that saw everything wrong in the government and Presidency he served. Did not the newspapers love him? Well they did, and fast forward, old Mike too ended up forming a political party that has become only relevant in endorsing candidates of more grounded political parties.
It may not be necessary to talk about Kabimba whose fall from grace is well documented but to imagine he managed to bring himself to say the most despicable things about the Patriotic Front is downright incredible. Comrade Harry Kalaba is walking this long tested path believing he could ride on his impeccable political image.
He may have to find out soon enough that convincing people that ‘I am clean’ is not the only substance of political gamesmanship. Whether or not any of these men made the right political choices is not our call, but they could definitely not have been the most political wise individuals in the choices they made. Perhaps one of them will tear the unwritten rule book and become President. If newspaper headlines could be the basis for choosing a President we could have already lived under His Excellency Mike Mulongoti Presidency, George Mpombo, Wynter Kabimba and most recently Harry Kalaba.